To the Museum of Chinese in America: Reject Jails!
Dear Board and Executive Leadership of the Museum of Chinese in America,
In October 2019, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) publicly accepted a “community give-back” of 35 million dollars as a concession from Mayor De Blasio’s 8.7 billion dollar Borough-Based Jail Plan.
We unequivocally condemn MOCA's acceptance of a “community give back” in exchange for its silent support of the jail expansion plan. We are demanding that MoCA reject these concessions and publicly oppose the construction of a new 35-story high rise jail in New York's Chinatown.
MOCA was founded 40 years ago with a vision to document the histories of working-class Chinese Americans, a vision we wholeheartedly support. Profiteering from the construction of jails is antithetical to this history and the legacy of Chinese American social justice movements.
Asian Americans have a rich history of standing in solidarity with liberation struggles of Black, brown and Indigenous people. MOCA’s collusion in the new jail plan not only betrays the Chinese American and Chinatown communities it claims to serve, but denigrates the lived realities and incarcerates the futures of Asian American immigrants and, particularly, Indigenous, Black and brown communities. MOCA claims to be an institutional ally of the Black Lives Matter movement, but its acceptance of $35 million for the construction of new jails across the city proves otherwise.
Instead of pouring millions of dollars into building jails, New York City must divert these funds to address the root causes of systemic racism and poverty. This means cutting all public and private investments in jail and detention facilities, including the new borough-based jails and immigrant detention centers, and investing in the futures of the very communities that have been oppressed by these forms of state sanctioned violence. Real racial justice necessitates the abolition of prisons and policing in all forms.
There is no better time than the present to build an abolitionist future: no police, no prisons, no surveillance, no further expansion of the carceral state. There is no better time to stand against a criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts and harms Indigenous, Black and brown communities.
1. Close Rikers and reject Mayor De Blasio’s 8.7 + Billion Dollar Jail Plan
2. Reject any and all deals, concessions and community ‘give-backs’ offered by the city from a new jail plan. Be transparent with the communities MoCA is meant to serve.
3. Remove Jonathan Chu, a luxury developer from MOCA’s Board for his harmful leadership that promotes displacement in NYC’s Chinatown.
4. Support the abolitionist demands and visions put forth by groups such as Free Them All For Public Health and No New Jails NYC and understand that solidarity with Black Lives Matter necessitates the abolition of prisons and policing.
The community has been calling for MOCA to be publicly transparent about its funds and reject this concession for nearly two years. The time for words has passed and words must be followed by long overdue action. It is for this reason that we demand the Museum of Chinese in America take actionable steps towards racial justice by rejecting its jail concession deal. We have yet to see action on these demands and issue them to MOCA for a response immediately.
Chinatown Art Brigade
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